Climate resilience

Published November 28, 2023

THE IMF’s advice to Pakistan to use its resources more effectively and efficiently to build a climate-resilient infrastructure and strengthen its ability to attract climate finance is timely. Pakistan is among the countries most vulnerable to the impact of climate change and the authorities are looking for international support to meet their climate finance targets.

Formulating sound public investment policies and aligning them with national climate adaptation and mitigation goals would be a step in the right direction. The Fund wants the next budget to be a “turning point” for planning mechanisms and investment portfolios based on climate adaptation. At the moment, Pakistan’s capital stock and efficiency of public investment are low.

The IMF has underscored the need for improving transparency on climate-related actions in the budget documents by providing information on key aspects of the public investment programme.

It wants the Planning Commission, together with the finance ministry, to come up with a proposal that, after approval, can be included in the next budget, and is encouraging the government to publish its climate-related spending for the ongoing fiscal year.

Pakistan has experienced several climate disasters caused by global warming. The World Bank’s Country Climate and Development Report has estimated that 6.5-9pc of GDP will likely be lost by 2050 to climate change, unless the challenge to lessen the impact of increased floods and heatwaves, which are reducing farm yields, destroying infrastructure and lowering labour productivity, is addressed.

Last year’s devastating floods, which displaced millions of people in the country and wiped out crops and infrastructure worth over $30bn, sharply demonstrate the need for greater investments in climate-resilient infrastructure.

With temperatures rising and unpredictable rainfall patterns increasing the risk of floods, cyclones, droughts and heatwaves, it is imperative our policymakers formulate sound development policies to mitigate the risk.

Transparent investments based on demonstrable needs in climate-resilient infrastructure are crucial to alleviating the impact of climate change and the increasing natural disasters the country is witnessing.

Unfortunately, in spite of significant understanding among policymakers about the threats presented by rapid global warming to economic and financial stability, it is disappointing to find that the country is least prepared to deal with the fallout of climate change.

Pakistan’s people and its economy have suffered massively due to bureaucratic inertia, policy ad-hocism, and a reactionary response to climate disasters. Notwithstanding the official claims, no concerted effort has thus far been made to plan and align public investments with national climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

With Pakistan just one more natural disaster away from yet another human and economic catastrophe, it is critical to ensure climate resilience of the economy through sound climate-related public investment management.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2023

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